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TKM Union resorted to illegal sit-in Strike and declared lockout: Toyota Kirloskar Motor

Bengaluru, NFAPost: Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) passenger manufacturing plant declared lockout after employees resorted to a sit-in strike. The labour unions allege there is a tussle between the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen standard and its impact on the work environment in the factory

Interacting with NFAPost, TKM Employees Union President Prasanna Kumar said TKM production practices based on Kaizen standard have put pressure on labourers it has created an unfriendly work environment at the factory shopfloor.

“They gave us 3 minute time for completion of a standard work unit and now wants that to be finished by 2.5 minutes. It is putting enormous pressure on labourers at the factory as they are not even able to take rest. The pressure tactics of management is not labour friendly,” said Prasanna Kumar.

People centric company

The sad state of Indian manufacturing with labour unrest is happening is at a time when the country is trying itself to be the next manufacturing hub of the world by attracting more investment. Also, the government is moving ahead with its plan to make 25% GDP contribution from manufacturing with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious Make in India and Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan initiatives.

Masakazu Yoshimura
Managing Director, Toyota Kirloskar Motor
Vikram S. Kirloskar
Vice Chairman, Toyota Kirloskar Motor

According to Toyota Kirloskar Motor spokesperson TKM is deeply committed to the wellbeing of all its stakeholders including employees.

“As a people-centric company, TKM has been at the forefront of providing competitive compensation packages including unique welfare measures over and above the statutory requirements to improve the quality of life of its workforce. We also provide unionized employees with various platforms to participate in global events and competitions thus creating continuous Learning & Development opportunities,” states the TKM spokesperson.

The company made it clear that the strike launched by the trade union on Monday as illegal as even in the current challenging business conditions due to COVID-19 pandemic and the company has been relentlessly working to sustain plant operations and protect the interest of our employees. 

Illegal sit-in Strike

“At present, the TKM Union has resorted to illegal sit-in Strike and those team members are unlawfully staying in the company premises and compromising the COVID-19 guidelines. Due to the current volatile atmosphere and to protect the safety of employees, Toyota Kirloskar Motor is forced to declare a “lock-out” until further notice. Communication and dialogue with relevant stakeholders is ongoing to try and resolve the issue,” states the spokesperson.

The spokesperson also said despite TKM management efforts to maintain a cordial and healthy working environment based on active employee participation and maintaining desired level of discipline in the plant, one of the employees who has systematic record of misconducts was again involved in breach of discipline and unacceptable behaviour which is in violation of law and service policy of the company.

“Accordingly, he has been placed under suspension pending enquiry in line with the company rules and applicable laws. As per extant service rules and keeping in mind the principles of natural justice, all possible opportunities will be provided to the employee during the inquiry process,” states the spokesperson.

Kaizen is a Japanese term meaning “change for the better” or “continuous improvement.” It is a Japanese business philosophy regarding the processes that continuously improve operations and involve all employees. Kaizen sees improvement in productivity as a gradual and methodical process.

Automation to bring relief

TKM Employees Union President Prasanna Kumar said the union is not against Kaizen practices to be implemented at the factory but there should a level playing field for the labourer’s freedom.

“We can’t pressure employees to do the work by limiting their timing for usual activities while working at assembly line. The management is putting pressure as they change the ongoing practices saying that Japanese production method instructs these changes always. They can bring in labour friendly automation practices so that pressure can be reduced,” he said.

While Toyota officials have sought 3 to 4 days time to prepare the shop floor to resume production, TKM Employees Union President Prasanna Kumar demanded immediate resumption as the decision is unilateral. TKM employs around 3000 permanent staff and 3500 non-permanent staff at their two production facility at Bidadi.

According to the Karnataka Labour Department sources, the management of TKM decided to go for lockout is primarily fearing damages to factory machinery. “We held a conciliatory meeting with the union members and management representatives. We have instructed the company to lift the lockout and asked the employees to resume work,” said Karnataka Labour Department sources.

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